Monday, February 18, 2019


  • Monday, Nov. 5, 2018
Sigma ships 3 new lenses
Sigma's 56mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens

Sigma Corporation of America, a still photo and cinema lens, camera, flash and accessory manufacturer, has revaled pricing and availability of two brand new lenses announced at Photokina--Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary ($479 USD) and Sigma 40mm F1.4 DG HSM Art ($1399 USD). In addition, Sigma is now shipping the Sony E-mount version of its “Bokeh Master”– Sigma 105 F1.4 DG HSM Art ($1599 USD).

The brand new Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens completes the Sigma large-aperture series of portable wide-angle, standard and telephoto prime lenses in Micro Four Thirds and Sony E mounts, including Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary and 30mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary. Featuring compact design, light weight and outstanding image quality offered in Sigma’s Contemporary line, this latest lens stuns with a beautiful bokeh effect and the amount of brightness expected from F1.4 lenses even in the mid-telephoto range for cropped sensor cameras. In addition, this lens is characterized by smooth and quiet autofocus ideal for video shooting. Compatible with the Sony E mount Fast Hybrid AF, it also achieves precise AF tracking. By using the face recognition or eye AF functions of the camera, focus will continuously be on the face or the eye even if the subject moves during the shoot.

The brand new 40mm F1.4 DG HSM Art is Sigma’s first lens developed originally to live up to the sought-after angle of view and performance standard for a benchmark cine lens. This lens effectively arranges three FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass elements and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements to correct axial chromatic aberration and magnification chromatic aberration. Designed for exceptional sharpness at maximum aperture, this lens excels at available light photography. With less than 1% distortion and near non-existent sagittal coma flare, this lens demonstrates consistent optical results featuring both 8K-compatible resolution and a beautiful bokeh. It is available for Sigma, Nikon, Canon and Sony E mount camera systems.

And the Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art is the ninth lens in the Sigma F1.4 line-up designed for full-frame cameras. To combine outstanding wide-aperture, mid-telephoto performance with F1.4 brightness at maximum aperture, this lens incorporates 17 optical elements in 12 groups, including three FLD glass elements, two SLD glass elements and one aspherical lens element. This optical setup minimizes axial chromatic aberration to deliver ultra-high resolution along with ample peripheral light volume, which minimizes vignetting. As a result, the area in focus is extremely sharp, while the out-of-focus area features a beautiful bokeh effect with highly natural colors, making this a desired lens for portrait photography. The optical design also minimizes sagittal coma flare, making it an excellent choice for capturing starry skies.

  • Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018
Verizon CEO to keynote at CES 2019

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) TM today announced that Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg will deliver a keynote address at the upcoming CES® 2019. CES is the global showcase for 5G driving innovation across industries, from smart cities to self-driving vehicles, digital health and telecom. Vestberg’s address will take place at 4 PM on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019 in the Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom. Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2019 will run Jan. 8-11, 2019 in Las Vegas.

5G networks will be 100 times faster and five times more responsive than today, with an extremely high data rate and low latency - transforming industries and providing endless possibilities for new services and applications. At CES 2019, the world’s most influential tech event, Vestberg will explore the future of connectivity through 5G as it fuels new technologies and services that will blend our physical and digital worlds. Vestberg will take a deep dive into the impact of 5G that will change our world for the better – from building smart cities infrastructure to improving education, aiding first responders and beyond.

“Verizon is paving the way for 5G, which will improve the lives of citizens around the world fundamentally changing how we live, work and play,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “Only at CES can you touch, see and feel 5G’s impact across industries and hear from global experts leading the charge to harness the potential of 5G and its impact on future innovation. We welcome Hans Vestberg to the CES keynote stage and look forward to hearing Verizon’s plans for the future that will spur new markets, create new jobs and connect communities around the world.”

Vestberg was named chief executive officer of Verizon Communications, a leading provider of wireless, fiber-optic and global Internet networks and services, in August of 2018. He previously served as Verizon’s chief technology officer and president of Global Networks, with responsibility for further developing the architecture for Verizon’s fiber-centric networks. At Verizon, Vestberg has focused on delivering seamless experiences for customers over network assets. These assets consist of the U.S.’s leading and largest 4G LTE network, the world’s first commercial 5G broadband internet service, and residential fiber networks. As a global internet backbone, Verizon’s undersea cable network carries much of the world’s internet traffic, and fiber assets in 45 of the top 50 markets in the country. Verizon’s latest products and services will be on display at CES 2019 in CES Tech West, located in the Venetian, Toscana #3705.

Vestberg spoke on a 5G Keynote Talk at CES 2018 and has also keynoted while CEO of Ericsson. He joins a dynamic lineup of confirmed CES 2019 keynote speakers, including AMD’s Dr. Lisa Su, IBM’s Ginni Rometty and LG’s Dr. I.P. Park. Additional keynote speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

CES features 4,500 exhibitors across 2.75 million net square feet of exhibit space. The 2018 event attracted 182,198 attendees, including a record 63,784 international attendees, according to the official show audit. Conducted by Vault Consulting, LLC, the CES audit provides absolute verification of exhibition records, including direct on-site observation, examination of registration systems and testing of attendee records.

CES 2019 will showcase life-changing technology, with leaders in the 5G revolution such as AMD, Ericsson, Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Sprint and T-Mobile showcasing their latest 5G applications. The show also provides access to the very latest transformative tech such as artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, smart home, smart cities, sports, quantum computing and more.

  • Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018
Nepal Television upgrading to HD by January 2019, selects FOR-A resources
FOR-A HVS-2000 3 M/E video switcher

Given a mandate from the country’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, Nepal Television, the national broadcaster of Nepal, must fully upgrade to high-definition by January of next year – which also marks the broadcaster’s 34th  anniversary.

By January 31, 2019, Nepal Television will be running three HD studios, replacing all of its current equipment from SD to HD. As of that date, all new equipment must be installed and on-air so that Nepalese viewers can enjoy HDTV broadcasts from the country’s national broadcaster.

The selection was made in October to work with FOR-A’s Southeast Asia office to fulfill the networks’ quick turnaround, future 4K upgrade path, and budgetary requirements. Nepal Television will utilize two FOR-A HVS-2000 2 M/E video switchers for two of  its studios, one HVS-2000 3 M/E video switcher for a biggest production studio, and dual-channel FA-9520 signal processors for frame synchronization, color correction, and up/down/cross/aspect conversion. The Nepal Television has been using HVS-390 video switchers in two studios, including one regional studio in Kohalpur.

Nepal Television will also upgrade the master control room (MCR) and program control room (PCR) for its two national channels (NTV and NTV PLUS) to full HD. Nepal Television will use two FOR-A MFR-3000 routing switchers - one in the Master Control Room and one as a redundant router. In the program control room, FOR-A’s MFR-1616 routing switcher will serve as the upstream router, the HVS-100 as the on-air production switcher, and FA-9520’s for all signal processing.

In a joint statement, Chinta Mani Baral, HOD, engineering, and Hari Prasad Bhandari, chief of studio transmission and maintenance of Nepal Television, said, “FOR-A is known for the ruggedness and reliability of its product range and its modern design. From video switchers, to routing switchers to signal processing, we were able to deal with one premier manufacturer in Japan, which was a big benefit to us. They’re able to meet our pricing and tight turnaround time and make sure we’re fully HD by January 31, 2019.”

  • Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018
Marquis Broadcast appoints Paul Glasgow as managing director 
Paul Glasgow

Marquis Broadcast--which develops specialist software to perform tricky integrations, including apps for postproduction, disaster recovery, analytics, cloud workflows and large complex enterprise middleware integrations--has promoted Paul Glasgow to managing director following the retirement of Chris Steele. Glasgow joined Marquis in 2016 with nearly three decades of management experience including senior roles at Sony, EMC Media Solutions, Avid Technology and ChyronHego. 

“I would like to thank Chris for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Marquis Broadcast throughout his six years as managing director,” said Christoffer Kay, chairman of the board. “He was also instrumental in the early decision to include cloud workflow into our product line which enables us to support an exceptionally high number of cloud platforms. Chris will continue to be active with Marquis Broadcast in a consulting capacity.”

  • Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018
iPads, Macs get new screens as Apple pushes creativity
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event to announce new products Tuesday Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Apple's new iPads will more closely resemble its latest iPhones as they ditch a home button and fingerprint sensor to make more room for the screen.

As with the latest iPhone models — the XR and XS —the new iPad Pro will use facial-recognition technology to unlock the device and to authorize app and Apple Pay purchases.

Apple also unveiled new Mac computers, including a MacBook Air laptop with a high-resolution screen.

Tuesday's announcements took place at an opera house in New York, where the company was emphasizing its products' ability to create music, video and sketches. Neither the Mac nor the iPad generates as much revenue for Apple as iPhones.

Tablet sales have been declining overall, though Apple saw a 3 percent increase in iPad sales last year to nearly 44 million, commanding a 27 percent market share, according to research firm IDC. Apple has been promoting its high-end iPad Pro as ideal for artists, photographers and other creators.

The smaller of the two new Pros will have a larger display, with an 11-inch screen rather than 10.5 inches, as measured diagonally. For the larger, 12.9-inch model, Apple is fitting the same-size display into a smaller device — about the size of a standard sheet of paper.

The new iPads will have an LCD screen similar to the iPhone XR rather than the more vibrant one found in the top-of-the-line iPhone XS models. The displays on the new iPads don't run to the edges as much as they do on the iPhones.

The new iPads start at about $800.

An optional companion pencil will now be able to attach magnetically to the iPad for storage and charging.

Apple is bringing a high-resolution display to its low-end MacBook Air, something until now limited to pricier models such as the MacBook Pro products. But the starting price is now about $1,200, $200 more than before.

The Air also joins higher-end Pros in sporting a fingerprint sensor, something the iPad just lost.

Apple also announced an updated desktop computer, the Mac Mini, starting at about $800.

The company says both Macs will use aluminum left over from producing iPads and other products.

The new MacBook Air and iPad Pros will now use a standard, oval-shaped connector called USB-C. That means accessories using the iPad's old Lightning port will need adapters. But the change will allow people to charge their iPhones through the iPad.

All the new products come out Nov. 7.

Apple also is releasing a free software update for iPhones and iPads on Wednesday with previously announced features such as group video chats on FaceTime.

  • Monday, Oct. 29, 2018
Google to give away $25 million to fund humane AI projects
This March 19, 2018, file photo shows the Google app on an iPad in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) -- 

Google will give away $25 million to projects that propose ways to use the artificial intelligence of computers to help create a more humane society.

The grant program announced Monday is part of a broader Google initiative called "AI for Social Good" that aims to ease concerns that advances in artificial intelligence will eliminate jobs and perhaps even be autonomously deployed by militaries to kill people.
Other technology companies have taken similar steps to address ethical issues in AI. For instance, Microsoft has committed $115 million to an "AI for Good" initiative that provides grants to organizations harnessing AI for humanitarian, accessibility and environmental projects.

During a presentation in Sunnyvale, California, Google demonstrated how its AI technology is already being used to diagnose diseases, help people with disabilities, predict areas likely to flood and protect endangered species.

Despite commitments like those being made by Google and Microsoft, the specter of AI going horribly awry lingers.

Even as it pledges to do good things with AI, Microsoft is pursuing a massive U.S. military contract that prompted an open letter earlier this month from a purported group of Microsoft employees worried the company might be betraying its own artificial-intelligence principles. Microsoft reaffirmed its resolve to win the military contract in its own blog post last week, promising to address any ethical concerns that may arise if it ends up working on the project.

Google decided not to bid for the same military contract that Microsoft wants after some its own employees protested. The company concluded the contract, potentially worth $10 billion, didn't comply with its AI principles , which preclude the technology from being used to "cause or directly facilitate injury to people."

The company's AI For Social Good program was already in the works before Google employees raised objections about the military contract, said Jeff Dean, a senior fellow overseeing AI.

Google's nonprofit arm will announce the winners of its AI grants next spring at an annual company conference.

  • Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018
Muse VFX deploys Fusion Studio on FX Networks' "Legion"
The "Delusion Monster" from FX hit series "Legion"

Blackmagic Design announced that L.A.-based Muse VFX used Fusion 9 Studio, its VFX and motion graphics software, on FX’s critically acclaimed drama Legion. Based on the Marvel Comics by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz, Legion is the story of “David Haller” (Dan Stevens), a man who believed himself to be schizophrenic only to discover that he may actually be the most powerful mutant the world has ever seen. 

Led by founders and VFX supervisors John Gross and Fred Pienkos, the Muse VFX team used Fusion Studio for the second season of the hit TV series. “A lot of our work on the show’s VFX revolved around characters and creatures, everything from monsters to mice,” said Pienkos.

One of those creatures was the “Delusion Monster,” which began in the season’s first episode by hatching from an egg and grew over the season run to reach gigantic proportions.

“The baby ‘Delusion Monster’ was covered in sticky black goo and it left footprints wherever it went, so I came up with a way to create them in Fusion Studio,” said VFX generalist Bryan Ray. “The Ambient Occlusion buffer from the render showed where the creature’s feet touched the floor, so I used the Trails tool to make the footprints linger after he took another step. Then I used a couple of custom macros to give the footprints some volume and reflectivity.”

By episode six, the “Delusion Monster” had grown in scale to fill entire rooms. To help with its lighting, Muse VFX used Fusion Studio’s SDK to create MultiMerge Fuse for performing merges, which is now available for public use through Reactor, a free and open source package manager for Fusion and DaVinci Resolve.

  • Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018
Faceware launches Shepherd mocap sync software
Faceware's Shepherd motion capture sync software

Faceware Technologies—an innovator and provider of markerless 3D facial motion capture solutions—announced the upcoming release of its Shepherd motion capture sync software. This brand-new software automates Faceware’s ProHD headcam recording, and integrates with industry-leading body motion capture systems, such as Vicon and Optitrack, to sync facial and body mocap recordings on Windows PCs and tablets. 

“In most mocap recording sessions, operators are working with one software package for body mocap, and another for facial mocap. This adds a lot of complexity and a lot of work for your operators,” said Peter Busch, VP of business development at Faceware Technologies. “Shepherd syncs a studio’s face and body mocap pipelines, providing a more unified, succinct and automated motion capture process—something that is a key initiative for our users.”

Shepherd gives facial motion capture operators the ability to control recording and playback of multiple Ki Pro® video recording devices. Shepherd instantly simplifies any motion capture shoot by eliminating the need to manually track take numbers, file names, and recording times. Because of Shepherd’s novel ability to start and stop facial recording at the body system’s direction, the facial motion capture operator is empowered to focus on the most important aspect of any capture shoot: the actor’s performance.

Shepherd currently connects to Vicon and Optitrack mocap systems to provide facial motion capture recordings that are in sync with body motion capture recordings. Shepherd also provides valuable tools for producers, like the ability to easily transfer clips from multiple Ki Pro® devices simultaneously, as well as export a detailed list of recorded clips for review, editorial, or to be fed directly into an existing Faceware Batch Pipeline. Shepherd will be available via a Closed Beta with select partners starting this month. A wider Open Beta period will follow in November  with a public release scheduled for early 2019. 

Faceware’s software products identify the movement of an actor’s face from video and apply that movement to a CG character. Together with its head-mounted and stationary cameras, Faceware’s technology has been used successfully in movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Walk.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018
Splash adds Andrew Starling, Beth Axworthy to lead global business development
Beth Axworthy

Creative technology company Splash Worldwide has added Andrew Starling and Beth Axworthy to drive global business development and coordinated marketing initiatives across the company’s seven offices. Both based in Splash’s flagship London office and reporting to CEO Paul Stonebridge, Starling will serve as global business development and marketing director with Axworthy serving as global business development and marketing manager. 

Starling and Axworthy both spent the past five years at Hogarth where they established its global business development department and played a key role in driving the company’s strong annual growth. Prior to Hogarth, Starling spent eight years working in business development at BBC Worldwide; he also has extensive experience with management consulting in the media sector, both in London and New York. Axworthy, prior to her tenure at Hogarth, specialized in business development and marketing for the pharmaceutical and clinical research industry. Both bring a proven track record of success with building sustainable growth, managing and integrating global teams, and a high level of industry expertise.

“Splash has differentiated itself in the market by focusing on building an impressive technology component supporting creative production, asset management, and delivery,” said Starling. “The robust tech capabilities already in place, flexible nature of being an independent company, a proven track record with some of the world’s leading companies, and Splash’s end-to-end production offering are a powerhouse combination. Beth and I are looking forward to telling the Splash story more widely and supporting Splash’s long-term success.”

Splash maintains offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Amsterdam, Dubai, and Singapore.

  • Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018
Telestream Vantage enables workflow at Argentina's Artear
Artear's Content Production Center
NEVADA CITY, Calif. -- 

Telestream, a provider of digital media tools and workflow solutions, has announced that Arte Radiotelevisivo Argentina SA (Artear) is using Telestream Vantage Transcode Pro to automate the transcoding and processing of media moving into and out of its Avid editing, storage and asset management systems.

Owned by Argentine media conglomerate Grupo Clarín, Artear produces and distributes Spanish-language content, such as episodic dramas, game shows, news, and dance competitions. To compete effectively in the digital era, Artear manages and distributes close to a dozen media brands across a multi-platform universe spanning broadcast, cable, and digital sites.

To better manage its multi-faceted operations, Artear recently opened a new, 28,000 square foot Content Production Center—the largest in Latin America—complete with four studios featuring an Avid MediaCentral post production workflow. A key component to the MediaCentral workflow is a Telestream Vantage Transcode Pro system that automates the transcoding and processing of media moving into and out of the Avid editing, storage and asset management systems. 

Artear’s Vantage Transcode Pro workflow is accelerated through the use of four Telestream Lightspeed K80 servers, plus 10 Dell CPU nodes running Vantage. “As our operation grows, I can’t imagine how we would handle our current media processing workload without Vantage,” said José Gabriel Ciccarelli, Avid ASCR, for Artear. “Vantage ensures that all video—regardless of codec, format, bitrate, or quality—can be ingested into our MediaCentral ecosystem. It also ensures that the material exported from our Avids is in the right format for distribution to all of our websites and social networks as quickly as possible.” 

To meet all of its distribution requirements—including viewing on a variety of home and mobile devices—Artear needs to repurpose each instance of video that it produces into a variety of formats and adaptive bit rate (ABR) variants. Artear has also configured its Vantage system with Vantage Transcode Multiscreen, a GPU-accelerated solution for creating high-quality ABR packages—a process that optimizes the video content for proper display on all the different connected devices today’s viewers like to use.

Some of Artear’s most challenging workflows are related to transcoding the voluminous content seen on its TN cable news network into the right formats for use on the website and international distribution channels. “By automating these tasks, we’ve eliminated human error, which is common with repetitive tasks. And with accelerated processing, we’re able to ensure that media files are ready in time for postproduction. With Vantage, we’ve gained valuable time—that’s for sure,” added Ciccarelli.

Today, Vantage automates a wide range of media processes for Artear including:

  • Ingesting media from a watch folder directly into Interplay and/or ISIS
  • Converting between formats, codecs, and frame rates
  • Creating adaptive bitrate packages for multi-platform distribution
  • Handling broadcast codecs, such as XDCAM HD 50/35Mbps/ProRes 422 and DNxHD-120/185/220Mbps, as well as H.264/x264/H.265 and GoPro Cineform
  • Mixing audio channels and performing normalization tasks, such as loudness correction
  • Enabling media expansion, and adding fades in/out and movie and image overlays
  • Generating proxies for archive

“Before Vantage, we only needed to ingest about 150 Sony camera files per day into our Avid workflow. But, as the need for digital versions increases, we now rely on Vantage to solve our biggest challenge—getting content to our viewers in the formats they need to watch wherever and whenever they choose,” concluded Ciccarelli.

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